March For Our Lives is a (Girl Power Academy) call for action!

A march across the Brooklyn Bridge June 2014 Mom’s for Gun Control

Join the Student and Families March on Washington!

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.

March with us in Washington DC or march in your own community. On March 24, the collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard. 

Click Here to Join the March and learn more: https://www.marchforourlives.com

Mission Statement

Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives. 

March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns.  March For Our Lives believes the time is now. 

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington, DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority. The collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard. 

School safety is not a political issue. There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing.  The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues.  No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country. 

Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard. 

Stand with us on March 24. Refuse to allow one more needless death.

MARCH FOR OUR LIVES!

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool student Cameron Kasky speaks at a Rally for Gun Control on February 17 at the Broward County Fedral Courth House (Rhona Wise Getty Images)

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Cameron Kasky, one Marjory Stoneman Douglas High student involved in the event, said those who survived the massacre that killed 17 people are determined to “create a new normal where there’s a badge of shame on any politician who’s accepting money from the NRA.” He said students want to get their message across to President Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Gov. Rick Scott “to give them the opportunity to be on the right side of this.”

 

Advertisements

Emma Gonzalez is a (Girl Power Academy) featured Student Anti-Gun Activist

Florida Shooting Survivor Emma Gonzalez to Trump: “We Call BS”

 By

Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived Wednesday’s mass shooting, gave a blistering speech at an anti-gun rally on Saturday about the politicians complicit in the murder of her classmates. It was yet another reminder that the teenagers and children who grew up in the shadow of school shootings (and the 150,000 who survived one) are more practical—and less tolerant of empty rhetoric—than the adults who are supposed to protect them. Gonzalez had no use for crocodile tears from President Trump, who was in Florida on Friday to offer his condolences (and, reportedly, to drop by a Studio 54 theme party at Mar-a-Lago):

If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy, and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association. But hey, you want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know: $30 million. … To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!

Gonzalez’s grief and righteous fury electrified the crowd, which broke into chants of “Shame on you.” She was especially incensed at Trump’s attempts to attribute the shooting to mental illness, given that the president specifically acted to make it easier for mentally ill people to purchase guns:

In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses. … I don’t need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor of this bill to stop the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill, and now he’s stating for the record, “Well, it’s a shame that the FBI isn’t doing background checks on these mentally ill people.” Well, duh: You took that opportunity away last year! The people in government who we voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call B.S.

Gonzalez then led the crowd in a spirited call and response, running through a pretty comprehensive list of lies and excuses from the gun lobby and their lackeys.

Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers nowadays, saying that all we are is self-involved and trend-obsessed, and hushing us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation? We are prepared to call BS!

Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA, telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this: We call BS!

They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence: We call BS!

They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun: We call BS!

They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars: We call BS!

They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred: We call BS!

That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works: We call BS!

It’s easy for adults to use a speech like this as an excuse for complacency: Any version of “the kids will save us” that doesn’t end with “from the gun-loving death cult we tolerated and nurtured for decades and thus bear special responsibility for confronting,” is, well, BS. But it’s heartening to see that the old lies aren’t working.

Ashlee Haze is a (Girl Power Academy) featured Poet recommendation:

Ashlee Haze “For Colored Girls (the Missy Elliot Poem) Button Poetry performance is being posted here for NO COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.

“…When Missy Elliot is Enuf…”

Reference to:  A Laying on of Hands Poem by Ntozake Shange from “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf”

https://girlpoweracademy.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/ntozake-shange-is-a-girl-power-academy-featured-poet-recommendation/

Subscribe to Button! New video daily: http://bit.ly/buttonpoetry

***

the Missy Elliot “Pass That Dutch” (Music Video) is being posted here for Music Inspiration and for NO COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.

Missy Elliot “Pass That Dutch” (with baby girl interlude intro) LYRICS:
[Missy] (Mary)
Ay yo Mary, I need you to vibe with me on this one
Uh, uh, check it
As I grab my pad and pen and talk from within
Oh God, my eyes, water like a preacher who sins
I’m only human but
The world has put me on a platform
Since the day I was born to only wait for my downfall
But like a brick wall I’m too hard to break
Okay I do make mistakes but I’m the realest from the fake
That’s why I’m the hardest to hate
Aaliyah, baby girl, I’ve learned to love those while they’re still awake
Sleep, asleep
And prepare a place for those who are good
In the projects and hood, gifted or misunderstood
I know Lisa, Pac and Biggie and Jay and Pun are still number one
There will be more of us to come (ohh)
I am a leader, a teacher, a guider (ooh)
Like a single parent provider (ooh)
Putting back those hip-hop dividers
Like a priest with a back slider
I’ve sinned but I win
And anyone we’ve lost in life or nine eleven
We’ll be sure to see again (ooh, hoo)[Mary]
What you hear is not a test (ooh)
I’m rocking to the beat (I’m rocking to the beat)
See me and my crew and my friends (and)
We’re gonna try to move your feet (move around, move around)
See I am Mary Blige (yes I am)
And I’d like to say hello (thank you for inviting me)
To the black to the white, the read and the brown
The purple and yellow (everybody)
But first you gotta, but first you gotta
***

Listen up everyone! We have been just informed
That there’s an unknown virus that’s attacking all clubs
Symptoms have been said to be, heaving breathing
Wild dancing, coughing
So when you hear the sound, WHO-DI-WHOOOO!
Run for cover muthafucka.
WOOOOOO! Ahh daddy! Ooooo! Ah! Oh, ooh!
Pass that dutch (ah), pass that dutch (ooh)
Pass that dutch (ah), pass that dutch (ah)
Pass that dutch (ah), pass that dutch (ah)
Pass that dutch (whoo), pass that dutch

Misdemeanor on the flow, pretty boy here I come
Pumps in the bunk make you want to hurt something
I can take your man I don’t have to sex em
Hang em out the window call me Micheal Jackson (hehehee!)
I’m a pain in your rectum, I am that bitch y’all slept on
Heavy hitter, rhyme spitter, call me Re-Run
Hey hey hey, I’m what’s happ’nin
Hypnotic in my drink (that’s right!)
Shake ya ass till it stink (that’s right!)
Mr. Mos’ on the beat (that’s right!)
Put it down for the streets (that’s right!)

Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Come on pass the dutch baby! (ahh!)
Shake-shake shake ya stuff ladies!
(WHO-DI-WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!)
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pop that, pop that, jiggle that fat (ahh!)
Don’t stop, get it till ya clothes get wet

Number one, drums go bump, bump, bump
This beat here will make you hoomp, boomp, jump
If you’s a fat one, put your clothes back on
Before you start putting pot holes in my lawn
Oh my God, show em I’m large
Shove my beat up, attack like my name was Saddam
I am the bomb from New York to Milan
And I can write a song sicker than Jeffrey Dahm’
(Woop woop!) Don’t touch my car alarm
Break in my car you will hear “Viper Armed”
I’ve been a superstar since Daddy Kane was raw
I’m live on stage, c’mon and give me some applause
“Thank you! Oh thank you, you all are so wonderful!”

Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Come on pass the dutch baby! (ahh!)
Shake-shake shake ya stuff ladies!
(WHO-DI-WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!)
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pop that, pop that, jiggle that fat (ahh!)
Don’t stop, get it till ya clothes get wet

Listen up muthafuckas, you have five seconds to catch your breath.
Five, four, three, two, one

Pop that, pop that, make that money
Just keep it going, like the Energizer Bunny
Shake that, shake that, move it all around
Spank that, yank that, dutch back now
Freak him, freak her, whatever ya choice
Didn’t come to judge, I came to get ya moist
Scream, (WHO-DI-WHOOOOOOO!) now my voice is lost
Can I get a ride on the white horse?

Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Come on pass the dutch baby! (ahh!)
Shake-shake shake ya stuff ladies!
(WHO-DI-WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!)
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pass that dutch, pass that dutch
Pop that, pop that, jiggle that fat (ahh!)
Don’t stop, get it till ya clothes get wet

Pop that
Pass the dutch baby!
Jiggle that fat

(Wake Up) exit lyrics:

[Intro: Missy Elliott (& Jay-Z)]
Eh yo Hov, tell em, hip hop betta wake up
(Yeah, turn the muhfuckin music up
Yeah, turn the muhfuckin music up)

[Verse 1: Missy Elliott]
Motherfuckers betta wake up, stop sellin crack to the black
Hope you bought a spare for your flat
Can’t accept me talkin real facts
Down the hill like Jill and Jack, I speak what yah weak mind lacks
Yah heard that
I’m creative to the fullest
What you talkin bout Willis
Cause your talkin never kill it
I hear but don’t feel it
Thou ain’t realest, you just sweet meat in the village
Yeah I’m a Don Diva Don Niva
Y’all not seen her, heater squeezed into a wife beater
Yep I’m a top leader, I got the Martin Luther King fever
I’ma feed ya, watch ya teacher, need to preach ya

It’s time to get serious, black people all areas
Who gon carry us? It ain’t time to bury us
Cause music be our first love, say ‘I Do’ let’s cherish it

[Hook]
If you dont gotta gun (its alright)
If yah makin legal money, (its alright)
If you gotta keep yah clothes on, (its alright)
You ain’t got a cellular phone, (its alright)
And yah wheels dont spin, (its alright)
And you gotta wear them jeans again, (its alright)
Yeah if you tried oh well, (its alright)
MC’s stop the beef lets sell, (its alright)

[Verse 2: Missy Elliott]
Hip-Hop better wake up, the bed to make ups
Some of y’all be faker than a drag on make up
Got issues to take up, before we break up
Like Electra let go, Missy Anita Baker
I love Jacob but jewelry won’t fix my place up
Gotta stay up, studio nights to cake up
Now check my flavor, rich folks is now my neighbors
I got cable, now check out how I made my paper
Hip-Hop don’t stop, be my Lifesaver
Like Kobe and Shaq if they left Lakers
I’m like an elevator DJ on the crossfader
Black people wake up and see your ass later

[Hook]

[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
I need rims that don’t listen and a booming system
First piece of change I see, I’m gon get one
745 no license to drive
I ain’t even got a home, I guess I’ll live in my ride
Fuck it!… (“rewind” – *echoes*)
“I can hear myself, but I can’t feel myself
I’m wanna feel myself like Tweet
745 no license to drive
I ain’t even got a home, I guess I’ll live in my ride
Fuck it, couple karats in the ear won’t hurt
Need a nice chain, laying on this thousand dollar shirt
Evisu Jeans cover the rectum, my kick game just like David Beckham
Anybody in my way, I wet them
I’mma be this way till the cops come catch ’em
Till detectives sketch em
On the sidewalk wit chalk, New York’s infections
Till I got taught a lesson
Couple niggas gone, couple went Corrections, Emory Got 10

Ty got 15, nigga even my kin
Got five years bringin nineteen in
But just think I used to think like them

Now they gotta live through the pictures that I send them in the pen
Hope you don’t start ya life where I end…
WAKE UP! WAKE UP [x15]

[Hook]

“Pass The Dutch” Written by Timothy Mosley, David Jolicoeur, Vincent Mason, Kelvin Mercer, Paul Huston, Thomas Allen, Harold Brown, Morris Dickerson, Gerald Goldstein, Leroy Jordan, Lee Levitin, Charles Miller, Howard Scott, Missy Elliott • Copyright © EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

Emtithal “Emi” Mahmoud is a (Girl Power Academy) featured Poet recommendation:

Emtithal “Emi” Mahmoud writes poetry of resilience, confronting her experience of escaping the genocide in Darfur in verse. She shares two stirring original poems about refugees, family, joy and sorrow, asking, “Will you witness me?”

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less).

Follow TED on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/TED

Michael Archie is a (Girl Power Academy) Comic Book Artist-Writer featured recommendation:

a Girl Power Academy is honored to feature the Volume 5 issue of WorkForce Comics!

To order the WorkForce Vol. 5  or check out more of Mykel Archie’s music inspirations, paintings, graphic design, logos, T-shirt designs, drinking vessels, and indie art go to:

https://perfectman.wordpress.com

The Busta Rhymes “Everything Remains Raw” (Music audio) is being posted here for MUSIC INSPIRATION and for NO COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.  (Special Thanks to Mykel Archie for always sharing the music.)

Busta Rhymes “Everything Remains Raw” LYRICS:
Word up, let me just fuck with your mind, please
Hey! hey yo yo yo, yo! Let me fuck up your mind
On time, showing, you the, rhythm
As I get wreck and get raw
Yeah I be the man, coming off, that be raw
It’s busta rhymes giving you much more
So
Yo y’all (y’all) one more time I come
Knucklehead flow that make you act real dumb
Yo (yo), I burn your food like florence
Run up in your crib like my name was search warrants
Shut your mouth nigga don’t you complain
Fix you up, mix you with cut like pro-caines
Ooh! Insane to your brain
Right on your subconscious, I leave my shit stain
I be the mostest with rhyme overdoses
Hot stepping over shit like ini kamoze’s
Sick lyrics like multiple sclerosis
Focus, while I display flows ferocious
Weak niggaz just fall and keep tumbling
Distribute lyrics like I’m hand to hand herb hustling
Hardcore like quick draw mcgraw
Fuck what you heard you ain’t heard this before
I make sure everything remains raw
Yo, when I step in the place I leave damages
Nuff bandages on pussy from miscarriages
Yo, watch me bring the newest recipe
Fuck you up quick and condemn you all with leprosy
Let me hit you with flows, that come various
Hahh, send you home and make you lie bout your alias
Ha-ha, niggaz can’t see my routine
When I round up my flipmode niggaz and get cream
Hey, you! You know what the fuck I mean
Now I’m on the scene, stepping through like mean joe green
Now I’m making you feel the extreme
Till I black you out then turn on my real high beam
Oh shit, now I got your brains fried
Once you inhale smoke from my flow, carbon monoxide!
Use your imagination, let me take you higher
Rain hail snow earthquakes, earth wind & fire
Yo, hit the dirt, get on the floor
I’m that outlaw nigga living right next door
You should just roll out the red carpet
All movin targets, I got you open like supermarkets
(Word up, word up) yo yo, there’s only five years left
While niggaz is scared to death they breathe they last breath
Days of my life goes on, word is bond
I make you feel my proton, neutron, and electron
Yo, I be the number one icon
Word to the holy qu’ran, I rock on and on
On and on, hey, on and on and on
You won’t understand when I form voltron
Hahahaha, everything remains raw
I make sure everything remains raw
***
Songwriters: Harvey Osten / Trevor Smith
Everything Remains Raw lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Charles Burnett is a (Girl Power Academy) featured writer-film director recommendation:

Marchers in Harlem showing support for Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama

The film recommendation for Selma, Lord, Selma directed by Charles Burnett is about when In 1965, Sheyann (Jurnee Smollett) and Rachel (Stephanie Zandra Peyton), two African-American girls from Selma, Alabama, become active in the Civil Rights Movement after they witness a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. (Clifton Powell). Along with a white seminary student named Jonathan (Mackenzie Astin), the two young girls participate in the famous Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march, and remain strong even in the face of racism and violence.

film poster for Selma, Lord, Selma
 Music composed by: Stephen James Taylor
Story by: Sheyann Webb, Frank Sikora, Rachel West Nelson
Webb and West Nelson recounted their experiences with the Civil Rights Movement to Frank Sikora, which resulted in the book Selma, Lord, Selma (1980). The book was made into a television movie that aired on January 17, 1999; in the film, Webb was portrayed by actress Jurnee Smollett. Webb also keeps the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement alive by continuing to tell the story of “Bloody Sunday.”
Charles Burnett (writer and film director)

Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007.

In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep with Anger (1990).

Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.”

Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.

Martin Luther King Jr. Speech (full transcript with crowd witnessing):

Our God is Marching On!

25 March 1965

Montgomery, Ala.

My dear and abiding friends, Ralph Abernathy, and to all of the distinguished Americans seated here on the rostrum, my friends and co-workers of the state of Alabama, and to all of the freedom-loving people who have assembled here this afternoon from all over our nation and from all over the world: Last Sunday, more than eight thousand of us started on a mighty walk from Selma, Alabama. We have walked through desolate valleys and across the trying hills. We have walked on meandering highways and rested our bodies on rocky byways. Some of our faces are burned from the outpourings of the sweltering sun. Some have literally slept in the mud. We have been drenched by the rains. [Audience:] (Speak) Our bodies are tired and our feet are somewhat sore.

But today as I stand before you and think back over that great march, I can say, as Sister Pollard said—a seventy-year-old Negro woman who lived in this community during the bus boycott—and one day, she was asked while walking if she didn’t want to ride. And when she answered, “No,” the person said, “Well, aren’t you tired?” And with her ungrammatical profundity, she said, “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.” (Yes, sir. All right) And in a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, (Yes, sir) but our souls are rested.

They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, (Well. Yes, sir. Talk) but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, “We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around.” (Yes, sir. Speak) [Applause]

Now it is not an accident that one of the great marches of American history should terminate in Montgomery, Alabama. (Yes, sir) Just ten years ago, in this very city, a new philosophy was born of the Negro struggle. Montgomery was the first city in the South in which the entire Negro community united and squarely faced its age-old oppressors. (Yes, sir. Well) Out of this struggle, more than bus [de]segregation was won; a new idea, more powerful than guns or clubs was born. Negroes took it and carried it across the South in epic battles (Yes, sir. Speak) that electrified the nation (Well) and the world.

Yet, strangely, the climactic conflicts always were fought and won on Alabama soil. After Montgomery’s, heroic confrontations loomed up in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, and elsewhere. But not until the colossus of segregation was challenged in Birmingham did the conscience of America begin to bleed. White America was profoundly aroused by Birmingham because it witnessed the whole community of Negroes facing terror and brutality with majestic scorn and heroic courage. And from the wells of this democratic spirit, the nation finally forced Congress (Well) to write legislation (Yes, sir) in the hope that it would eradicate the stain of Birmingham. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, (Speak, sir) but without the vote it was dignity without strength. (Yes, sir)

Once more the method of nonviolent resistance (Yes) was unsheathed from its scabbard, and once again an entire community was mobilized to confront the adversary. (Yes, sir) And again the brutality of a dying order shrieks across the land. Yet, Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of man. If the worst in American life lurked in its dark streets, the best of American instincts arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it. (Yes, sir. Speak) There never was a moment in American history (Yes, sir) more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger (Yes) at the side of its embattled Negroes.

The confrontation of good and evil compressed in the tiny community of Selma (Speak, speak) generated the massive power (Yes, sir. Yes, sir) to turn the whole nation to a new course. A president born in the South (Well) had the sensitivity to feel the will of the country, (Speak, sir) and in an address that will live in history as one of the most passionate pleas for human rights ever made by a president of our nation, he pledged the might of the federal government to cast off the centuries-old blight. President Johnson rightly praised the courage of the Negro for awakening the conscience of the nation. (Yes, sir)

On our part we must pay our profound respects to the white Americans who cherish their democratic traditions over the ugly customs and privileges of generations and come forth boldly to join hands with us. (Yes, sir) From Montgomery to Birmingham, (Yes, sir) from Birmingham to Selma, (Yes, sir) from Selma back to Montgomery, (Yes) a trail wound in a circle long and often bloody, yet it has become a highway up from darkness. (Yes, sir) Alabama has tried to nurture and defend evil, but evil is choking to death in the dusty roads and streets of this state. (Yes, sir. Speak, sir) So I stand before you this afternoon (Speak, sir. Well) with the conviction that segregation is on its deathbed in Alabama, and the only thing uncertain about it is how costly the segregationists and Wallace will make the funeral. (Go ahead. Yes, sir) [Applause]

Our whole campaign in Alabama has been centered around the right to vote. In focusing the attention of the nation and the world today on the flagrant denial of the right to vote, we are exposing the very origin, the root cause, of racial segregation in the Southland. Racial segregation as a way of life did not come about as a natural result of hatred between the races immediately after the Civil War. There were no laws segregating the races then. And as the noted historian, C. Vann Woodward, in his book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, clearly points out, the segregation of the races was really a political stratagem employed by the emerging Bourbon interests in the South to keep the southern masses divided and southern labor the cheapest in the land. You see, it was a simple thing to keep the poor white masses working for near-starvation wages in the years that followed the Civil War. Why, if the poor white plantation or mill worker became dissatisfied with his low wages, the plantation or mill owner would merely threaten to fire him and hire former Negro slaves and pay him even less. Thus, the southern wage level was kept almost unbearably low.

Toward the end of the Reconstruction era, something very significant happened. (Listen to him) That is what was known as the Populist Movement. (Speak, sir) The leaders of this movement began awakening the poor white masses (Yes, sir) and the former Negro slaves to the fact that they were being fleeced by the emerging Bourbon interests. Not only that, but they began uniting the Negro and white masses (Yeah) into a voting bloc that threatened to drive the Bourbon interests from the command posts of political power in the South.

To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. (Right) I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, (Yes) thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. (Yes, sir) And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.

If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. (Yes, sir) He gave him Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, (Yes, sir) he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. (Right sir) And he ate Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. (Yes, sir) And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, (Speak) their last outpost of psychological oblivion. (Yes, sir)

Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike (Uh huh) resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; (Yes, sir) they segregated southern churches from Christianity (Yes, sir); they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; (Yes, sir) and they segregated the Negro from everything. (Yes, sir) That’s what happened when the Negro and white masses of the South threatened to unite and build a great society: a society of justice where none would pray upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality. (Yes, sir)

We’ve come a long way since that travesty of justice was perpetrated upon the American mind. James Weldon Johnson put it eloquently. He said:

We have come over a way

That with tears hath been watered. (Yes, sir)

We have come treading our paths

Through the blood of the slaughtered. (Yes, sir)

Out of the gloomy past, (Yes, sir)

Till now we stand at last

Where the white gleam

Of our bright star is cast. (Speak, sir)

Today I want to tell the city of Selma, (Tell them, Doctor) today I want to say to the state of Alabama, (Yes, sir) today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. (Yes, sir)

Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. (Yes, sir) The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The wanton release of their known murderers would not discourage us. We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) Like an idea whose time has come, (Yes, sir) not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. (Yes, sir) We are moving to the land of freedom. (Yes, sir)

Let us therefore continue our triumphant march (Uh huh) to the realization of the American dream. (Yes, sir) Let us march on segregated housing (Yes, sir) until every ghetto or social and economic depression dissolves, and Negroes and whites live side by side in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. (Yes, sir) Let us march on segregated schools (Let us march, Tell it) until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past, and Negroes and whites study side-by-side in the socially-healing context of the classroom.

Let us march on poverty (Let us march) until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. (Yes, sir) March on poverty (Let us march) until no starved man walks the streets of our cities and towns (Yes, sir) in search of jobs that do not exist. (Yes, sir) Let us march on poverty (Let us march) until wrinkled stomachs in Mississippi are filled, (That’s right) and the idle industries of Appalachia are realized and revitalized, and broken lives in sweltering ghettos are mended and remolded.

Let us march on ballot boxes, (Let’s march) march on ballot boxes until race-baiters disappear from the political arena.

Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs (Yes, sir) will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. (Speak, Doctor)

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march) until the Wallaces of our nation tremble away in silence.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march) until we send to our city councils (Yes, sir), state legislatures, (Yes, sir) and the United States Congress, (Yes, sir) men who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Let us march. March) until brotherhood becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda.

Let us march on ballot boxes (Yes) until all over Alabama God’s children will be able to walk the earth in decency and honor.

There is nothing wrong with marching in this sense. (Yes, sir) The Bible tells us that the mighty men of Joshua merely walked about the walled city of Jericho (Yes) and the barriers to freedom came tumbling down. (Yes, sir) I like that old Negro spiritual, (Yes, sir) “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” In its simple, yet colorful, depiction (Yes, sir) of that great moment in biblical history, it tells us that:

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, (Tell it)

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, (Yes, sir)

And the walls come tumbling down. (Yes, sir. Tell it)

Up to the walls of Jericho they marched, spear in hand. (Yes, sir)

“Go blow them ramhorns,” Joshua cried,

“‘Cause the battle am in my hand.” (Yes, sir)

These words I have given you just as they were given us by the unknown, long-dead, dark-skinned originator. (Yes, sir) Some now long-gone black bard bequeathed to posterity these words in ungrammatical form, (Yes, sir) yet with emphatic pertinence for all of us today. (Uh huh)

The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. (Yes, sir) The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. (No) There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.

In the glow of the lamplight on my desk a few nights ago, I gazed again upon the wondrous sign of our times, full of hope and promise of the future. (Uh huh) And I smiled to see in the newspaper photographs of many a decade ago, the faces so bright, so solemn, of our valiant heroes, the people of Montgomery. To this list may be added the names of all those (Yes) who have fought and, yes, died in the nonviolent army of our day: Medgar Evers, (Speak) three civil rights workers in Mississippi last summer, (Uh huh) William Moore, as has already been mentioned, (Yes, sir) the Reverend James Reeb, (Yes, sir) Jimmy Lee Jackson, (Yes, sir) and four little girls in the church of God in Birmingham on Sunday morning. (Yes, sir) But in spite of this, we must go on and be sure that they did not die in vain. (Yes, sir) The pattern of their feet as they walked through Jim Crow barriers in the great stride toward freedom is the thunder of the marching men of Joshua, (Yes, sir) and the world rocks beneath their tread. (Yes, sir)

My people, my people, listen. (Yes, sir) The battle is in our hands. (Yes, sir) The battle is in our hands in Mississippi and Alabama and all over the United States. (Yes, sir) I know there is a cry today in Alabama, (Uh huh) we see it in numerous editorials: “When will Martin Luther King, SCLC, SNCC, and all of these civil rights agitators and all of the white clergymen and labor leaders and students and others get out of our community and let Alabama return to normalcy?”

But I have a message that I would like to leave with Alabama this evening. (Tell it) That is exactly what we don’t want, and we will not allow it to happen, (Yes, sir) for we know that it was normalcy in Marion (Yes, sir) that led to the brutal murder of Jimmy Lee Jackson. (Speak) It was normalcy in Birmingham (Yes) that led to the murder on Sunday morning of four beautiful, unoffending, innocent girls. It was normalcy on Highway 80 (Yes, sir) that led state troopers to use tear gas and horses and billy clubs against unarmed human beings who were simply marching for justice. (Speak, sir) It was normalcy by a cafe in Selma, Alabama, that led to the brutal beating of Reverend James Reeb.

It is normalcy all over our country (Yes, sir) which leaves the Negro perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of vast ocean of material prosperity. It is normalcy all over Alabama (Yeah) that prevents the Negro from becoming a registered voter. (Yes) No, we will not allow Alabama (Go ahead) to return to normalcy. [Applause]

The only normalcy that we will settle for (Yes, sir) is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. (Yes, sir) The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of brotherhood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.

And so as we go away this afternoon, let us go away more than ever before committed to this struggle and committed to nonviolence. I must admit to you that there are still some difficult days ahead. We are still in for a season of suffering in many of the black belt counties of Alabama, many areas of Mississippi, many areas of Louisiana. I must admit to you that there are still jail cells waiting for us, and dark and difficult moments. But if we will go on with the faith that nonviolence and its power can transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows, we will be able to change all of these conditions.

And so I plead with you this afternoon as we go ahead: remain committed to nonviolence. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man. (Yes)

I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” (Speak, sir) Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, (Speak, speak, speak) plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, (Speak) and truth bear it?” (Yes, sir)

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, (Yes, sir) however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, (No sir) because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” (Yes, sir)

How long? Not long, (Yes, sir) because “no lie can live forever.” (Yes, sir)

How long? Not long, (All right. How long) because “you shall reap what you sow.” (Yes, sir)

How long? (How long?) Not long: (Not long)

Truth forever on the scaffold, (Speak)

Wrong forever on the throne, (Yes, sir)

Yet that scaffold sways the future, (Yes, sir)

And, behind the dim unknown,

Standeth God within the shadow,

Keeping watch above his own.

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. (Yes, sir)

How long? Not long, (Not long) because:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; (Yes, sir)

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; (Yes)

He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; (Yes, sir)

His truth is marching on. (Yes, sir)

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; (Speak, sir)

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat. (That’s right)

O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!

Our God is marching on. (Yeah)

Glory, hallelujah! (Yes, sir) Glory, hallelujah! (All right)

Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on. [Applause]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. being arrested in Selma, Alabama by racist cops

Post Traumatic Stress (featuring: Peter A. Levine on how to heal)

Thank you readers and followers for your sensitivity surrounding the subject of Trauma.  (This was originally posted July 11, 2016)  There is no “season” nor “holiday” set aside for Mike Brown.  His spirit speaks when it needs to come thru.

There is no #MeToo movement nor time to “trend” for me.  Some of us never got the same support or empathy.  I live with this everyday.  

Every Day…

But that won’t stop me.

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.  It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” (quote from Pema Chodron)

"self portrait" by K. J. Legry
“self portrait” by K. J. Legry

In the darkness (not light) of the recent shootings, from Ferguson (can you believe that was two years ago?  Seems like yesterday… Do you remember Mike Brown?) to Orlando to Louisiana to Dallas and all the people and places I’m failing to mention, I heard Mike Brown’s mom say that after a while all of the “I’m sorries” blurred into one and how nothing changed.  She can’t get away from the social media images, the corporate media images, and she is being forced to relive the trauma of her son’s murder.  She can say only to the families suffering the loss of their loved ones at the hands of gun violence and police brutality, this is what you’re all going to know one day.  Now you will all know how it feels.  

There are the speeches by politicians and religious leaders I am supposed to be motivated or moved by, about it being a time for grieving and building bridges and for healing.  There is a call for calm. There is a weary cheer for love.  It’s a numbed collective from the repeated shocks, lacking leadership, insisting on pointing out the everyday heroes so we can still believe in angels.  

But for me… Mike Brown’s mom had the clearest message.

In my personal life (at the same time as the Dallas police department was being shot up) I had relapsed into a Posttraumatic Stress episode due to a predator from my past who raped me and began contacting me again.  I didn’t realize how ill equipped I would be to handle his transgressions and I became suicidal.  

Bruce Lee quote
Bruce Lee quote

This post is about Trauma.  I am not giving anyone professional advice about how to overcome and heal from experiences that kill soul.  I am offering what is currently helping me hold on and develop coping skills so that anyone else who finds themselves blocked by or locked into a fight or flight response might not feel so alone.  I believe it is possible to transform and renegotiate trauma.  That is my goal.

Many traditional approaches to therapy actually re-traumatize the victims and make it impossible for them to get help.  What I have discovered for my own best course is a non-tradtional approach.  It’s not the only way so if it doesn’t work for you, keep seeking your right guides and healers.

This is only partial information and hopefully is of some help to others for what I have selected and yet it is still a semi-long read because the matter of life and death doesn’t fit neatly into a box even when there are a lot of coffins around.  

Peace and LOVE,

KJ

Below is an Excerpt from an Interview (by Victor Yalom and Marie-Helene Yalom Copyright © 2010 Psychotherapy.net. All rights reserved. Published April 2010.)

The Polyvagal Theory

Peter Levine: Yes, the tiger image. At that time, I was taking a graduate seminar, and some brief mention was made of a phenomenon called tonic immobility. If animals were physically restrained and frightened, they would go into a profoundly altered state of consciousness where they were frozen and immobilized, unable to move. And it turns out that this is one of the key survival features that animals use to protect themselves from threat—in this case from extreme threat. Actually there are three basic neural energy subsystems. These three systems underpin the overall state of the nervous system as well as the correlative behaviors and emotions, leading to three defensive strategies to threat.
MY: That’s the polyvagal theory developed by Stephen Porges?
Peter Levine: Yes. These systems are orchestrated by the primitive structures in our brainstem—the upper part of the brainstem. They’re instinctive and they’re almost reflexive. The tonic immobility is the most primitive system, and it spans probably over 500 million years. It is a combination of freezing and collapsing—the muscles go limp, the person is left without any energy. The next in evolutionary development is the sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight response. And this system evolved from the reptilian period which was about 300 million years ago. And its function is enhanced action, and, as I said, fight-or-flight. Finally the third and most recent system is the social engagement system, and this occurs only in mammals. Its purpose is to drive social engagement—making friends—in order to defuse the aggression or tension.
VY: So this is when we’re feeling threatened or stressed we want to talk to our friends and family?
Peter Levine: Yeah, exactly. Or if somebody’s really angry at us, we want to explain what happened so they don’t strike out at us. Obviously most people won’t strike out, but we’re still hardwired for those kinds of expectations.
VY: Most people have a general sense of the fight-or-flight, but would you just say a few words on it?
Peter Levine: Basically, in the fight-or-flight response, the objective is to get away from the source of threat. All of our muscles prepare for this escape by increasing their tension level, our heart rate and respiration increase, and our whole basic metabolic system is flooded with adrenaline. Blood is diverted to the muscles, away from the viscera. The goal is to run away, or if we feel that we can’t escape or if we perceive that the individual that’s trying to attack us is less strong than we are, to attack them. Or if we’re cornered by a predator—in other words, if there’s no way to escape—then we’ll fight back. Now, if none of those procedures are effective, and it looks like we’re going to be killed, we go into the shock state, the tonic immobility. Now the key is that when people get into this immobility state, they do it in a state of fear. And as they come out of the immobility state, they also enter a state of fear, and actually a state in which they are prepared for what sometimes is called rage counterattack.
MY: Can you say more about that?
Peter Levine: For example, you see a cat chasing a mouse. The cat catches the mouse and has it in its paws, and the mouse goes into this immobility response. And sometimes you’ll actually see the cat bat the mouse around a little bit until it comes out of the immobility, because it wants the chase to go on. Now, what can happen is that the mouse, when it comes out of the immobility state, goes into what is called nondirective flight. It doesn’t even look for where it can run. It just runs as fast as it can in any direction. Sometimes that’s right into the cat. Other times, it will actually attack, in a counterattack of rage. I’ve actually seen a mouse who was captured by a cat come out of the immobility and attack the cat’s nose. The cat was so startled it remained there in that state while the mouse scurried away. When people come out of this immobility response, their potential for rage is so strong and the associated sensations are so intense that they are afraid of their own impulse to strike out and to defend themselves by killing the predator. Again, this all goes back to our animal heritage.  So the key I found was in helping people come out of this immobility response without fear. Now, with Nancy, I was lucky. If it were not for that image, I could just as easily have retraumatized her. As a matter of fact, some of the therapies that were being developed around that time frequently retraumatized people. I think particularly of Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy, where people would be yelling and screaming out, supposedly getting out all of their locked-in emotions, but a lot of times they were actually terrorizing themselves with the rage and then they would go back into a shutdown, and then be encouraged to “relive” another memory, and then this cycle would continue.
MY: It becomes addictive sometimes, right?

Buddha Quote
Buddha Quote

Peter Levine: That’s correct. It literally becomes addictive. And one of the reasons is that when you do these kinds of relivings, there’s a tremendous release of adrenaline. There’s also a release of endorphins, which is the brain’s internal opiate system. In animals, these endorphins allow the prey to go into a state of shock-analgesia and not feel the pain of being torn apart. When people relive the trauma, they recreate a similar neurochemical system that occurred at the time of the trauma, the release of adrenaline and endorphins. Now, adrenaline is addictive, it is like getting a speed high. [section;And they get addicted not only to the adrenaline but to the endorphins; it’s like having a drug cocktail of amphetamines and morphine.] So when I was at Esalen I actually noticed that people would come to these groups, they would yell and scream, tear a pillow apart that was their mother or their father, and they would feel high. They would feel really great. But then when they would come back a few weeks later, they would go through exactly the same thing again. And that’s what gave me a clue to the fact that this might be addictive.

Peter A. Levine, PhD is the developer of Somatic Experiencing© and founder of the Foundation for Human Enrichment. He teaches trainings in this work throughout the world and in various indigenous cultures. Levine is the author of the best-selling book Waking the Tiger : Healing Trauma : The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences and he has recently co-published a comprehensive book on childhood trauma, Trauma Through a Child's Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing as well as a guide for parents, Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents' Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience. He is the recipient of the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the the US Association of Body Psychotherapy.
Peter A. Levine, PhD

Peter A. Levine, PhD, is the developer of Somatic Experiencing© and founder of the Foundation for Human Enrichment. He teaches trainings in this work throughout the world and in various indigenous cultures. Levine is the author of the best-selling book Waking the Tiger : Healing Trauma : The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences and he has recently co-published a comprehensive book on childhood trauma, Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing as well as a guide for parents, Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents’ Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience. He is the recipient of the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the the US Association of Body Psychotherapy.

Click here to Learn More about:  Peter Levine on Somatic Experiencing (full interview)

Peter A. Levine, PhD (book cover) In An Unspoken Voice; How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
Peter A. Levine, PhD (book cover) In An Unspoken Voice; How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

“Recently, a young Iraq veteran took issue with calling his combat anguish PTSD and, instead, poignantly referred to his pain and suffering as PTSI- the “I” designating “injury.”  What he wisely discerned is trauma is an injury, not a disorder like diabetes, which can be managed but not healed.  In contrast posttraumatic stress injury is an emotional wound, amenable to healing attention and transformation. 

Nonetheless, the medical model persists.  It (arguably) functions fairly effectively with diseases like diabetes and cancer, where the doctor holds all of the knowledge and dictates the necessary interventions for a sick patient.  This is not, however, a useful paradigm for trauma healing.   Rather than being a disease in the classical sense, trauma is instead a profound experience of “dis-ease” or “dis-order.”  What is called for here is a cooperative and restorative process with the doctor as an assisting guide and midwife.  A doctor who insists on retaining his or her protected role as “healthy healer” remains separate, defending him- or herself against the ultimate helplessness that lurks, phantom-like, in all of our lives.  Cut off from his or her own feelings, such a doctor will not be able to join with the sufferer.  Missing will be the crucial collaboration in containing, processing and integrating the patient’s horrible sensations, imagess and emotions.  The sufferer will remain starkly alone, holding the very horrors that have overwhelmed him or her and broken down his or her capacity to self-regulate and grow.

In a common therapy resulting from this isolating orientation, the therapist instructs the PTSD victim to assert control over his or her feelings, to manage his or her aberrant behaviors and to alter his or her dysfunctional thoughts. Contrast this alignment to that of shamanistic traditions, where the healer and the sufferer join together to reexperience the terror while calling on cosmic forces to release the grip of the demons.  The shaman is always first initiated, via a profound encounter with his own helplessness and feeling of being shattered, prior to assuming the mantle of healer.  Such preparation might suggest a model whereby contemporary therapists must first recognize and engage with their own traumas and emotional wounds.”(excerpts from chapter 3: The Changing Face of Trauma, pages 34-35)

***

The MEDUSA – Benjamin Millepied ART + MUSIC MOCAtv (music and art film) is an artistic collaboration between Director Choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Rodarte Costumes, and the LA Dance Project in a Caravaggio aesthetic.  It is being posted here for reasons of art and healing and for NO COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.

Music: performed by Renee Fleming featuring Christoph EschenbachSchubert: Du bist die Ruh‘, D.776 (Op.59/3)”

LA Dance Project Dancers: Charlie Hodges, Amanda Wells, Nathan Makolandra, Morgan Lugo, Julia Eichten, Frances Chiaverini.  Director of Photography: Cat Deakins.  Costumes: Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.

"Medusa" illustrated by K. J. Legry (detail from the Girl Soda Atlas)
“Medusa” illustrated by K. J. Legry (detail from the Girl Soda Atlas)

Medusa

Mythology teaches us about courageously meeting challenges.  Myths are archetypal stories that simply and directly touch the core of our being.  They remind us about our deepest longings, and reveal to us our hidden strengths and resources.  They are also maps of our essential nature, pathways that connect us to each other, to nature and to the cosmos.  The Greek myth of Medusa captures the very essence of trauma and describes its pathway to transformation.  

In the Greek myth, those who looked directly into Medusa’s eyes were promptly turned into stone. . .frozen in time.  Before setting out to vanquish this snake-haired demon, Perseus sought counsel from Athena, the goddess of knowldege and strategy.  Her advice to him was simple:  under no circumstances should he look directly at the Gorgon.  Taking Athena’s advice to heart, Perseus used the protective shield fastened on his arm to reflect the image of Medusa.  This way he was able to cut off her head without looking directly at her, and thus avoided being turned to stone. 

If trauma is to be transformed, we must learn not to confront it directly.  If we make the mistake of confronting trauma head on, then Medusa will, true to her nature, turn us to stone.  Like the Chinese finger traps we all played with as kids, the more we struggle with trauma, the greater its grip upon us.  When it comes to trauma, I believe the “equivalent” of Perseus’s reflecting shield is how our body responds to trauma and how the “living body personifies resilience and feelings of goodness.

There is more to this myth:

Out of Medusa’s wound, two mythical entities emerged: Pegasus the winged horse and the one-eyed giant Chrysaor, the warrior with the golden sword.  The golden sword represents the penetrating truth and clarity.  The horse is the symbol of the body and instinctual knowledge; the wings symbolize transcendence.  Together, these aspects form the archetypal qualities and resources that a human being must mobilize in order to heal the Medusa (fright paralysis) called trauma.  The ability to perceive and respond to the reflection of Medusa is mirrored in our instinctual natures.

In another version of this same myth, Perseus collects a drop from the blood of Medusa’s wound in two vials.  The drop from one vial has the power to kill; the drop in the other vial has the power to raise the dead and restore life.  What is revealed here is the dual nature of trauma: the first its destructive ability to rob victims of their capacity to live and enjoy life.  The paradox of trauma is that it both has the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.  Whether trauma will be a cruel punishing Gorgon, or a vehicle for soaring to the heights of transformation and mastery, depends upon how much we approach it.  (excerpts from chapter 3: The Changing Face of Trauma, pages 35-37)

"Warrior versus Angel" photograph by K. J. Legry
“Warrior versus Angel” still life photograph by K. J. Legry

Below is Excerpted from an Interview (by Victor Yalom and Marie-Helene Yalom Copyright © 2010 Psychotherapy.net. All rights reserved. Published April 2010.)

until the person has dealt with and sufficiently resolved the physiological shock, they really can’t deal with the emotions

Peter Levine: Many therapists are doing something different from what they think they’re doing. And if you’re working with emotions in a very titrated way, then you can actually go from the emotions to the sensation, and begin to resolve things at a sensation level. But therapies that really work to provoke emotions or the exposure therapies… I know that they do get some results, but I think that they can easily lead to retraumatization.
VY: How so?
Peter Levine: One of the things that Bessel van der Kolk showed when he first started to do trauma research with functional MRIs is that when people are in the trauma state, they actually shut down the frontal parts of their brain and particularly the area on the left cortex called Broca’s area, which is responsible for speech. When the person is in the traumatic state, those brain regions are literally shut down, they’re taken offline. When the therapist encourages the client to talk about their trauma, asking questions such as, “Okay, so this is what happened to you. Now, let’s talk about it,” or, “What are you feeling about that?” The client tries to talk about it. And if they try to talk about it, they become more activated. Their brainstem and limbic system go into a hyperaroused state, which in turns shuts down Broca’s area, so they really can’t express in words what’s going on. They feel more frustrated. Sometimes the therapist is pushing them more and more into the frustration. Eventually the person may have some kind of catharsis, but that kind of catharsis is due frequently to being overloaded and not being able to talk about it, being extremely frustrated. So in a sense, trauma precludes rationality.
MY: So what do you think is the hardest thing for traditional talk therapists to learn when dealing with trauma patients?

Experiencing the Body

Peter Levine: I think the most alien is to be able to work with body sensations. And again, because the overwhelm and the fight-or-flight are things that happen in the body, what I would say is the golden route is to be able to help people have experiences in the body that contradict those of the overwhelming helplessness. And my method is not the only way to do that. It’s certainly one of the most significant. But many therapists, for example, will recommend that their clients do things like yoga or martial arts.

"To Stew or Not to Stew" from the notebook MY EVIL TWIN by K. J. Legry
“To Stew or Not to Stew” from the notebook MY EVIL TWIN by K. J. Legry

MY: Or meditation?
Peter Levine: The thing about meditation, though…. With some kinds of trauma, meditation is helpful. But the problem is when people go into their inner landscape and they’re not prepared and they’re not guided, sooner or later they encounter the trauma, and then what do they do? They could be overwhelmed with it, or they find a way to go away from the trauma. And they go sometimes into something that resembles a bliss state. But it’s really an ungrounded bliss state. I call that the bliss bypass.  It’s a way of avoiding the trauma. It was very common in the ‘60s when people were taking all of these drugs, and a lot of these people were traumatized from their childhood. And what they would do is they would go into these kinds of dissociated states of bliss and different hallucinatory imageries, but in a way it was avoiding the trauma. So in a way the trauma became even a greater effect, and then often people would then wind up having bad trips in which they would go into the trauma but without the resources to work them through.
MY: I guess that’s what I find inspiring about your approach. Ultimately you really want to enable the traumatized person to regain their autonomy, not just find palliative methods of dealing with their trauma.
Peter Levine: Yes. One thing therapists are really good at, I think, is they’re good at helping people calm. We set up our offices so they’re conducive, so they’re friendly, they’re cheerful, there are things in the room that would evoke interest and curiosity. And many therapists can actually help calm the traumatized person. This is something that’s a necessary first step, but if it’s the only thing that happens, the clients become more and more dependent on the therapist to give them some sense of refuge, some sense of okayness. But when therapists are helping the clients get mastery of their sensations, of their power in their body, than they are truly helping them develop an authentic autonomy. And from the very beginning, the client is beginning to separate.

So this is a gradual process, where the client really becomes authentically autonomous, authentically self-empowered. And if we don’t do this, the client tends to become more and more dependent on the therapist, and this is when you see these transferences where all of a sudden the client depends on the therapist for everything. At this point the therapist can go from being the god or the goddess up on this pedestal to being thrown down and the client having rage about the therapist for not helping them enough. So the key out of these conundrums is through self-empowerment, and I know of no more direct and effective way of doing this than through the body.

from the children's book: "Monkey Stew" (page 2) illustrated by K. J. Legry
from the children’s book: “Monkey Stew” (page 2) illustrated by K. J. Legry

Peter Levine: The shaking and trembling has to do with the resetting of the autonomic nervous system. I was so curious about this that I interviewed a number of people who work with capturing animals and releasing them into the wild. And they described to me very much the kinds of shaking and trembling that I see with my clients and that happened to me. A number of these folks said that they knew that if the animals didn’t go through this kind of shaking and trembling when they were captured and put in cages, they were less likely to survive when released into the wild. So it appears to be a way in which the physiological autonomic nervous system resets itself. 

(*note: I know the above post barely covers what I’m trying to say and so might not be easily grasped or readily helpful so I highly recommend you read the book for yourselves by Peter A. Levine, PhD In An Unspoken Voice; How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness BUT do not try to heal alone or think you have to.  Find a guide and don’t give up.)